Barrington, John Shute

, first lord viscount Harrington, a nobleman of considerable learning, and author of several books, was the youngest son of Benjamin | Shute, merchant (youngest son of Francis Sbute, of Upton, in the county of Leicester, esq.) by a daughter of the Kev. Jos. Caryl, author of the commentary on Job. He was born at Theobalds in Hertfordshire, in 1678, and received part of his education at Utrecht, as appears from a Latin oration which he delivered at that university, and published there in 1698, in 4to, under the following title “Oratio de studio Philosophise conjungendo cum studio Juris Roman!; habita in inclyta Academia Trajectina Kalendis Junii, 1698, a Johanne Shute, Anglo, Ph. D. et L. A. M.” He published also three other academical exercises; viz. 1. “Exercitatio Physica, de Ventis,Utrecht, 1696, 4to. 2. “Dissertatio Philosophica, de Theocratia morali,Utrecht, 1697. 3, “Dissertatio Philosophica Inauguralis, de Theocratia civili,Utrecht, 1697. The second of these tracts has been cited, with great commendation, by two eminent writers on the civil law, Cocceius and Heineccius. After his return to England, he applied himself to the study of the law in the Inner Temple. In 1701 he published, but without his name, “An essay upon the interest of England, in respect to Protestants dissenting from the Established Church,” 4to. This was reprinted two years after, with considerable alterations and enlargements, and with the title of “The interest of England considered,” &c. Some time after this he published another piece in. 4to, entitled “The rights of Protestant Dissenters,” in two parts. During the prosecution of his studies in the law, he was applied to by queen Anne’s whig ministry, at the instigation of lord Sorners, to engage the Presbyterians in Scotland to favour the important measure then in agitation, of an union of the two kingdoms. Flattered at the age of twenty-four, by an application which shewed the opinion entertained of his abilities, and influenced by the greatest lawyer and statesman of the age, he readily sacrificed the opening prospects of his profession, and undertook the arduous employment. The happy execution of it was rewarded, in 1708, by the place of commissioner of the customs, from which he was removed by the Tory administration in 1711, for his avowed opposition to their principles and conduct. How high Mr. Shute’s character stood in the estimation even of those who differed most widely from him in religious and political sentiments, apyears from the testimony borne to it by Dr. Swift, who writes thus to archbishop Kitig, in a letter dated London, | Nov. 30, 1708. “One Mr. Shute is named for secretary to lord Wharton. He is a young man, but reckoned the shrewdest head in England, and the person in whom the Presbyterians chiefly confide; and if money be necessary towards the good work, it is reckoned he can command as far as 100,000l. from the body of the dissenters here. As to his principles, he is a moderate man, frequenting the church and the meeting indifferently.” In the reign of queen Anne, John Wildman, of Becket, in the county of Berks, esq. adopted him for his son, after the Roman custom, and settled his large estate upon him, though he was no relation, and said to have been but slightly acquainted with him. Some years after, he had another considerable estate left him by Francis Harrington, of Tofts, esq. who had married his tirst cousin, and died without issue. This occasioned him to procure an act of parliament, pursuant to the deed of settlement, to assume the name and bear the arms of Barrington. On the accession of king George he was chosen member of parliament for the town of Berwick-upon-Tvveed. July 5, 1717, he had a reversionary grant of the office of master of the rolls in Ireland, which. he surrendered Dec. 10, 1731. King George was also pleased, by privy seal, dated at St. James’s, June 10, and by patent at Dublin, July 1, 1720, to create him baron Barrington of Newcastle, and viscount Barrington of Ardglass. In 1722 he was again returned to parliament as member for the town of Berwick; but in 1723, the house of commons, taking into consideration the affair of the Harburgh lottery, a very severe and unmerited censure of expulsion was passed upon his lordship, as sub-governor of the Harburgh company, under the prince of Wales.

It is said that a vindication of lord Barrington was published at the time, in a pamphlet which had the appearance of being written by him, or at least of being published under his direction but as we have not been able to discover this pamphlet, we shall subjoin a very curious history of the Harburgh company, and of his lordship’s conduct in that affair, from a manuscript of sir Michael Foster, communicated by his nephew, Mr. Dodson, to the editor of the Biographia Britannica.*

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Since the above was written, we have discovered the title of this pamphlet, which was printed in 1722, but not published till 1732, “The lord viscount Barringtoii’s case in relation to the Harburgh company and the Harburgh lottery,” 4to. There is an advertisement prefixed, dated May 12, 1732, containing a short apology for the work’s not having appeared before.

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To this tract is added, and said in the title-page to be printed in 1723, “A speech upon the question that the project called the Harburgh lottery is an infamous and fraudulent undertaking, whereby several unwary persons have been drawn in to their great loss and that the manner of carrying it on has been a manifest violation of the laws of this kingdom.” These two pieces are curious, concur with the account by judge Foster, and offer many important considerations in lord Barrington’s vindication.

| "His late majesty king George I. was desirous to introduce trade and manufactures into his German dominions; and the town of Harburgh being thought a proper place for that purpose, a scheme was offered to him, which met with his approbation, for making the port of Harburgh capable of receiving ships of burden, and for carrying on the intended trade and manufactures principally at that place. Accordingly his majesty, by charter under the great seal of the electorate, about Midsummer 1720, incorporated a number of gentlemen and merchants of London, for setting up and carrying on certain manufactures by a joint stock at Harburgh; and divers privileges were granted to the company, whose capital was to be 500,000l. and a charter for commerce was promised to that company. As soon as the manufacture charter was passed, and subscriptions taken in for raising the stock, shares sold at an exorbitant price, 50l. being commonly given for a share on which only 2l. had been advanced, and I think that some shares were sold at 50l. a-share. So great was the madness of that memorable year!

"This exorbitant rise upon the stock put some gentlemen and merchants of London, who thought themselves not enough considered in the manufacture charter, upon soliciting for a separate charter, for opening the port of Harburgh, and carrying on the foreign commerce there; and agents on behalf of the manufacture company, with others on behalf of the separate charter, followed his Majesty to Hanover, each party for some time endeavouring to carry their respective points; the manufacture company to get likewise the charter for commerce, the other party to get a separate charter for commerce, exclusive of the manufacture company. At length both sides agreed to accept one charter for commerce and manufactures, which should take in the members of the old company, and those who solicited for the separate commerce charter; and that the capital of the united company should be 1,500,000l. It was likewise agreed, that the members of the old company should, over and above the 500,000l. already subscribed, | be entitled to a certain share of the new stock, upon advancing, as before, 2l. upon each share, and that the residue of the stock should be divided amongst the new members and their friends. One gentleman in particular secured to himself, as I am informed, no less than 300,000l. to be disposed of by him amongst his friends.

"At this time shares were commonly sold at 20l. a share but before the end ofthe year, Harburgh stock sunk, as all other projects of that kind did and no money having been paid on the new stock, and no charter for commerce being passed, the gentlemen who solicited the new charter refused to be any farther concerned in the affair, since the opportunity for exorbitant profits was lost; and a new set of gentlemen and merchants, with the members of the old company, undertook to carry it on, and were incorporated by charter under the great seal of the electorate, for opening the port and carrying on the trade and manufactures at Harburgh.

"It was, as I have been informed, part of the original scheme, that the expence of opening the port, which was computed at 100,000l. should be defrayed by the profits of a lottery, to be drawn at Harburgh. Accordingly, after the new charter was passed, his majesty, by warrant under his sign manual and the privy seal of the electorate, empowered and required the company to lay before him a scheme for the lottery, which they did; and sometime afterwards his majesty, by a second warrant under his sign manual and privy seal of the electorate, signed his approbation of the scheme, and empowered the company to proceed upon it, and to deliver out tickets here for the lottery, and he named trustees to manage and direct the drawing at Harburgh. Before the lottery was opened, lord Barrington, who was sub-governor of the company, (his royal highness the present prince of Wales being named governor) thought it necessary to procure a British charter of incorporation, and measures were taken for that purpose with the British ministers; for hitherto everything touching the company had been transacted with the German ministers.

"His lordship, as I have reason to believe, was persuaded that the ministers intended that the company should have a British charter; and things went so far in that way, that a draught of a British charter was prepared and laid before the attorney-general. While things were in this state, some of the gentlemen in London concerned in the | affair opened a subscription for the lottery, lord Barrington being then in the country. This step they took, contrary to 'his lordship’s opinion and advice.

"Within a few clays after the subscription for the lottery was opened, advertisements were published by some of the gentlemen who had formerly solicited the commerce charter, and afterwards when the price of stock fell, had refused to accept their shares, treating the affair as a public cheat; and the matter was soon brought before the house of commons.

"While it was there depending, I was, in lord Barrington’s absence, consulted by the gentlemen concerned touching the best method for avoiding the storm which seemed to be gathering, and threatened the ruin of the company. My advice was, that the company should, without any hesitation, lay. their charter, with the two warrants for the lottery, before the house; and submit their case upon the foot of those powers; since it would appear by those powers, thut what they had done in the affair was done by virtue of powers received from his majesty. But this advice was soon laid aside, and the secretary (Mr. Ridpath) was instructed to acquaint the house, as he did, that the company having acted under powers received from his majesty as elector, in an affair concerning his electorate, they did not think themselves at liberty to lay such powers before the house without his majesty’s permission. This answer exactly suited the views of those people who intended to ruin the company, without seeming to do a thing which reflected dishonour on his majesty. Accordingly the houss was satisfied with the answer, so far as not to insist on a sight of the charter and warrants; and immediately came to a resolution, that the persons concerned in the affair, had acted therein without any authority from his majesty; and lordBarrington, who then served for Berwick upon Tweed, was expelled the house.

This matter was made an occasion for bringing this severe censure on lord Barrington who was suspected to have formerly taken some steps very disagreeable to the reigning minister, sir Robert Walpole. His lordship was firmly attached to the administration during the time of lord Sunderland’s ministry, and employed all his credit and influence with the dissenters, which was then very great, to keep that body in the same interest but upon the death of lord Sunderlandj sir Robert Walpole, who, for many | years during lord Sunderland’s administration, had opposed every public measure, succeeded him, as pi-hue minister, and could not forget the part which lord B irrington had acted again-st him.

In 1725 he published in 2 vols. 8vo, his “Miscellanea Sacra: or, anew method of considering so much of the history of the Apostles as is contained in scripture; in an abstract of their history, an abstract of that abstract, and four critical essays.” In this work the noble author has traced, with great care and judgment, the methods taken by the apostles, and first preachers of the gospel, for propagating Christianity; and explained with great distinctness the several gifts of the spirit, by which they were enabled to disciiarge that office. These he improved into an argument for the truth of the Christian religion; which is said to have staggered the infidelity of Mr. Anthony Collins. In 1725 he published, in 8vo, “An Essay on the several dispensations of God to mankind, in the order in which they lie in the Bible; or, a short system of the religion of nature and scriptwre,” &c. He was also author of several other tracts, of which the principal were, 1. “.A Dissuasive from Jacobitism; shewing in general what the nation is to expect from a popish king; and, in particular, from the Pretender.” The fourth edition of this was printed in 8vo, in 1713. 2. “A Letter from a Layman, in communion with the church of England, though dissenting from her in some points, to the right rev. the bishop of ———, with a postscript, shewing how far the bill to prevent the growth of schism is inconsistent with the act of toleration, and the other laws of this realm.” The second edition of this was printed in 1714, 4to. 3. “The Layman’s Letter to the bishop of Bangor.” The second edition of this was published in 1716, 4to. 4. “An account of the late proceedings of the Dissenting-ministers at Salters’-hall; occasioned by the differences amongst their brethren in the country: with some thoughts concerning imposition of human forms for articles of faith;” in a letter to the rev. Dr. Gale, 1719, 8vo. 5. “A Discourse of natural and revealed Religion, and the relation they bear to each other,1732, 8vo. 6. “Reflections on the 12th query, contained in a paper, entitled Reasons offered against pushing for the repeal of the corporation and test-acts, and on the animadversions on the answer to it,1733, 8vo. A new edition of his “Miscellanea Sacra” was published in 1770, 3 vols. | 8vo, under the revision of his son, the present learned and munificent bishop of Durham. Lord Barrington sometimes spoke in parliament, but appears not to have been a frequent speaker. He died at his seat at Becket in Berkshire, after a short illness, Dec. 4, 1734, in the 6Gth year of his age. He generally attended divine worship among the dissenters, and for many years received the sacrament at Pinner’s-hall, when Dr. Jeremiah Hunt, an eminent and learned non-conformist divine, was pastor of the congregation. He had formerly been an attendant on Mr. Thomas Bradbury, but quitted that gentleman on account of his zeal for imposing unscriptural terms upon the article of the Trinity. His lordship was a disciple and friend of Mr. Locke, had a high value for the sacred writings, and was eminently skilled in them. As a writer in theology, he contributed much to the diffusing of that spirit of free scriptural criticism, which has since obtained among all denominations of Christians. As his attention was much turned to the study of divinity, he had a strong sense of the importance of what is called free inquiry in matters of religion. In his writings, whenever he thought what he advanced was doubtful, or that his arguments were not strictly conclusive, though they might have great weight, he expressed himself with a becoming diffidence. He was remarkable for the politeness of his manners, and the gracefulness of his address. The only virulent attack we have seen against his lordship, occurs in lord Orford’s works, vol. I. p. 543, which from its contemptuous and sneering notice of the Barrington family, and especially the present worthy prelate, may be safely left to" its influence on the mind of any unprejudiced reader.

Lord Barrington married Anne, eldest daughter of sir William Daines, by whom he left six sons and three daughters. William, his eldest son, succeeded to his father’s honours; was elected, soon after he came of age, member for the town of Berwick, and afterwards for Plymouth; and, in the late and present reigns, passed through the successive offices of lord of the admiralty, master of the wardrobe, chancellor of the exchequer, treasurer of the navy, and secretary at war. He died in 1793. Francis, the second, died young. John, the third, was a majorgeneral in the army, commanded the land forces at the reduction of the island of Guadaloupe in 1758, and died in 17CM-. Of Daines and Samuel some notice will follow; | Shutc, the sixth, is now bishop of Durham. Of the three daughters, who survived their father, Sarah married Robert Price, esq. of Foxley in Herefordshire Anne, Thomas Clarges, esq. only son of sir Thomas Clarges, bart. and Mary died unmarried. 1

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Biog. Britannica. Nichols’s Bov/yer, vol. VI. where there is a longer list of lord Barrington’s Tracts.